Emergency Service Volunteers

If you are an employer in Colorado, ask yourself: have you heard of House Bill 08-1097 – Colorado Revised Statutes §24-32-2202 et seq.? If not, you may want to consider brushing up on the subject, especially if you have any employees who volunteer as emergency service workers (with the Red Cross, local fire department, etc.).

The bill, passed in 2008, protects volunteer emergency workers against loss of job, seniority, retirement benefits, rank, etc. when requested to respond to a disaster emergency. It specifies that employers must allow volunteer service members to take up to 15 working days off per year to respond to emergency situations. In the private sector this leave may be unpaid whereas government employees will be entitled to paid leave.

To qualify, volunteer emergency service works must be certified with a credible emergency service organization through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Emergency Management by a sheriff, local agency, state agency, or by a local emergency planning committee. Employees will be entitled to job protection when they perform ‘satisfactorily’ in a disaster emergency and provide certification from the emergency organization proving their requested involvement.

While this particular law stipulates emergency service volunteers are protected if they do not show up for work because of their service, employers should note there are other –similar – laws that also provide volunteer firefighters with job protection if they are at work when called to assist with putting out a fire.